One of the country’s leading headteachers is to step down from the once struggling borough school she so dramatically turned around.

Dame Sally Coates will leave Burlington Danes Academy, in White City, which is the flagship school of the ARK academies group, this September.

She will become director of rival schools group United Learning.

Dame Sally was knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list in 2013 for her work at the school.

When she took over the academy in Wood Lane five years ago, it had been in ‘special measures’ and had a reputation of being one of the worst schools in the borough for grades and aspirations.

But within a matter of years it made a dramatic turnaround to become one of the best comprehensives in the country.

Prime Minister David Cameron used the school as a shining example in a keynote speak on education in 2011 and, in December last year, it received its final seal of approval with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report , receiving top marks in all four categories.

Dame Sally said: “I will really miss the wonderful friends that I have made at Burlington Danes among staff members, parents and of course students.

“I have no doubt that you will thrive as an exceptional school over the coming years.”

Burlington Danes principal Dame Sally Coates with pupils last year

In recent years the thriving school has welcomed the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, ahead of London 2012, students have visited Downing Street and greeted royals including Prince Charles .

Lucy Heller, chief executive of ARK Schools, thanked the outgoing head for her efforts in transforming the school.

“ARK owes Sally a huge debt - not just in leading Burlington Danes, but also in driving up standards across our network of schools as executive principal at ARK Putney and before that at Evelyn Grace Academy,” she said.

“She has also contributed to education reform nationally, leading the independent review into teaching standards.

“She will be much missed by parents, staff and students for the inspiring and exceptional way she led Burlington Danes.

“It is testament to Sally and her team that the school has been transformed to an outstanding academy having been in special measures in 2006.

“We are sorry to see her go, but wish her every success in her new role.”

Burlington Danes has expanded its brand to a new primary school which will open on the same site in September.